DATE: January 30, 2017
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Public Hearing on the 2017-18 School Year Budget Is Tomorrow; Meeting Will Be Accessible via Live Stream
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Albemarle County School Board will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening, January 31, on the proposed budget (PDF) for the 2017-18 school year. The hearing begins at 6:30 in Lane Auditorium in the school division’s central office building at 401 McIntire Road in Charlottesville.
The proposed budget of $180.8 million represents a 4.7 percent increase over the current year, with 68 percent of the increase either from directed or mandated spending. These categories include a two percent compensation increase for employees and increases in contributions to the Virginia Retirement System and for employee health care.
The proposed budget projects revenues will grow by 4.3 percent over the current year, primarily fueled by a 5.8 percent increase in receipts from local government. State revenues show slight improvement. Overall, revenues are estimated to come in at $180.2 million. The difference in expenditures and revenues result in a funding gap of $691,000, which is the smallest this gap has been at this stage of the budget process in several years.
Despite the modest increase in anticipated state revenues, the state’s share of local education continues to lag the support that state revenues provided in previous years. Compared to state funding levels prior to the recession, there has been a 12 percent decline in real dollars in state support. If the state had maintained the same share it contributed in 2008-09, the school division would be receiving an additional $5.9 million this year.
The proposed budget contains only one major new initiative, Equity & Access, for 2017-18. The program, proposed at $1.27 million, is designed to close opportunity gaps for the division’s increasing population of at-risk students. Over the past 10 years, overall student enrollment has increased by 8.2 percent, but the growth in students from economically disadvantaged homes is 67 percent, and it is 37 percent for English Learner students.
At-risk students frequently require higher levels of support and services to overcome the learning barriers that their challenging life experiences impose when they enter school. In her letter to the School Board that accompanied her funding request, Superintendent Dr. Pamela Moran said, “On a personal and family level, it is important to value that while not all of our students come to us with the same interests, backgrounds or needs, they all do come to us with the same high levels of hopes and aspirations. It is our responsibility as educators and as community members to unlock the potential within each one of our students, to turn hopes from daydreams into reality.”
She added that the division needed to “increase our focus on closing the opportunity gaps that separate our children from their future and our entire community from prosperity. Our doors must be open to all, just as our mission must apply to all—not to equalize outcomes, but to equalize opportunities.”
Following the public hearing tomorrow evening, the School Board will continue its schedule of work sessions around the budget, with a focus on special revenue categories, including Food Services and the Extended Day Enrichment Program. The Board is expected to formally adopt its 2017-18 budget during its February 9 meeting, also at 6:30 p.m. in Lane Auditorium.
As is the case for all School Board meetings, residents can listen live to the proceedings.